Positivity in the Time of COVID

I was recently struck full force in the face with the power of positivity in the time of COVID-19.

A good friend of mine, Mark Hsu, recently published a book.

(Disclaimer: I’m in awe. Writing a book is superhero work.)

Its title speaks for itself: Please Open in the Event of My Death…A Father’s Advice to His Daughters in Case Something Horrible Happens…(Which Hopefully It Won’t but Just in Case…)

Hilarious, no? It’s not morbid, though in these trying times, jokes about death might be misinterpreted. But this isn’t about mortality, it’s about fatherly advice…from a worrywart.

Yesterday, I read a section about success and happiness where he recounts flipping through TV channels and heard a teaser for Dateline NBC in which they’d explain one of life’s conundrums: “Why are some people lucky and some people unlucky?”

Mark delights the reader describing the mental shenanigans of deciding he would in fact stick with Dateline to learn this secret to life.

He then went on to dole some more attitude advice to his daughter highlighting Charles Darwin’s “facial feedback hypothesis” saying facial movement can influence emotional experience. Rather than smiling just being a result of our emotion, smiles actually make us feel better.

Mark’s book reminds me of another friend going through what must be a living nightmare. Her husband has been in an induced coma for 19 days due to an extreme case of COVID-19. He’s 42yo and in vibrant health. She dropped him off at the hospital with seeming pneumonia, and because of the pandemic, she wasn’t allowed in. He was immediately intubated and he’s had massive complications and a surgery to amputate his leg in order to save his struggling body.

During this time, my friend hasn’t been able to see him (except for the occasional video call thanks to a generous nurse taking the time to hold the phone up to his comatose ear.)

And oh, yeah – they just moved from one coast to the other and are renovating a house.

Despite this, she has displayed nothing but positivity and grace. She is living a nightmare that would consume the rest of us in bitterness. Delving into darkness would be totally understandable, but she’s choosing not to do so.

She chooses a positive attitude and spreads light across her social posts and updates about her day, her exercise regimen (she’s a trainer) and her husband. Sometimes she’s fighting back tears; sometimes they flow. But she continues living to the best of her abilities for her 10-month old baby, her own sanity, and for her husband.

Our positivity in the time of COVID can be greatly influenced by attitude.

And it will inform how we demonstrate happiness for our children.

I often get caught up in envy of the creativity of people all across social media. Keeping up with the Joneses, feeling like I’m not applying my creativity, becoming unjustifiably angry with the brilliance of people like Chris Mann.

Another friend of mine recently asked “How’s it goin, Daddy?”

He caught me in a time of annoyance at the end of a homeschooling day. I responded, “Shitty. And you?”

He gave me a virtual hug. Chatting some more, he let me know he’s feeling inspired and creative. Admittedly, he doesn’t have children. But I’ve a feeling even with kids, he’d see the good side. This friend writes “choose joy’ in his email signature. He regularly reminds me that even though I feel saddled with my kids at this time, I can always choose joy and focus on the positive.

I saw on TikTok a high school senior who (rather darkly…so in contrast to my friend with the positive energy) shared pictures of “seniors in 1918” and “seniors in 1941” and “seniors in 1968” with pictures of 18yo boys shipping off to war.

Good reality check, eh? It sucks to be a senior in high school missing out on prom and graduation.

But the fact is we are asked to stay home to save lives, not shipping off to end them.

I hate this pandemic. I’m concerned about the future health of my friends and family. I’m terrified about my future financial stability.

But I’m reminded time and again that I definitely am in charge of my own attitude in a world that’s so totally out of control.

Thank you, Mark, Amanda & James (and Chris Mann?) for reminding me joy is often a choice and we can find positivity in the time of Covid.

Pardon me while I go force a smile.

Previously Published on ecknox.com

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